Saturday, March 17, 2012

Reflections and Ruminations on 3

This year marked the first time that Lydia celebrated a birthday in Minnesota. Festivities continue; we will share cake with three of her great-grandparents tomorrow afternoon, and I will do a photo-heavy post soon thereafter, but today I have been struck with the way in which our lives and community have expanded since our move.

Lydia is simultaneously more fun and rewarding and amazing and difficult than she has ever been. Yesterday, I brought Lydia to the park to enjoy our unseasonably warm Minnesota March and forced myself to sit back and watch her climb on the playground equipment. She has been able to climb the jungle gym for awhile, but yesterday, I gave her space. I didn't hover and spot. I allowed her the chance to go plummeting to the ground, but I also allowed her the chance to succeed completely on her own, and my girl climbed that ladder over and over.

Lydia uses phrases like "definitely interesting," "so cute," and she works "actually" and "would you mind if..." into her sentences like a pro. She climbs up on to a chair and attempts to steal frozen peas from the freezer. Last week, in a moment of rare form, she told me she was a dog, stood on one foot, lifted her other leg, and peed on herself. The girl is unlike any other.

The work involved in parenting is immense. The effort to maintain a sense of self--to not completely lose who I am in motherhood--is substantial. The twos and now threes have brought with them a fierce and feisty independent streak in Lydia that challenges me daily and sometimes leaves me wanting to curl up in an exhausted ball--and sometimes I do. I have always said that I wanted to raise a strong, independent girl, and that we have done--and I wouldn't have it any other way. Every single night that I have put Lydia to sleep--most in her life--I have left her with the words "Mommy loves you and you're a brave, strong girl." Now, she knows the phrase so well she says it with me. She is a brave, strong girl, and she knows it. What a blessing.

This year has felt so bittersweet. We have said so many goodbyes, made so many transitions, and missed so many things; on the flip side, we have stepped into exciting new opportunities, strengthened old friendships, and enjoyed being in the city that was always home. Today it clicked; as Lydia rolls into the threes, we are blessed with two amazing communities that have held us up, fed our hearts, and love our daughter. She has friends on both ends of the country; friends that I know will remain friends for years and years to come. She has adults that she loves and trusts--adults that love her right back--spread across the US. We are so, so fortunate.

Maybe the theme of this year will be, "I never knew..." I never knew how difficult it would be. I never knew how good a place could feel. I never knew how heartwrenching goodbyes could be. I never knew what good things could lurk just around the corner.

I never knew that in the midst of change, struggle, and challenge, there would be so much reason for joy and gratitude. I never knew that those things all coexist.

I have had said since her birth that Lydia has been the best thing we have had going. She is my greatest source of pride. I have always said that becoming a parent is the single most life-changing event one can experience. Lydia burst into our lives and we were never the same, and with every day, I understand that more fully. On a daily basis, she makes me laugh, she makes me want to scream, she boggles my mind.

She's a brave, strong girl, and for that and so many more reasons, I love her.

Happy 3rd, baby girl. It's been quite a ride.

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